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New research at the University of Arkansas is helping physicists better understand optomechanical cooling, a process that is expected to find applications in quantum technology.

Scientists have long understood that applying a properly tuned light field to a macroscopic (visible to the naked eye) object - in this case a mechanical oscillator - results in cooling the object. The process, optomechanical cooling, happens when pressure from photons (particles of light) converts energy stored in the object in the form of thermal phonons (particles of sound) into photons.

Ideally, the process would cool the object to its pure quantum state at which all thermal energy is removed. In reality, the quantum state cannot be achieved due to noise perturbations in the environment.

In their work, U of A researchers defined the cooling limit, which advances understanding of the process. Their findings were reported in an article titled, "Radiation Pressure Cooling as a Quantum Dynamical Process," published June 9 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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Category: Science